"Face the Nation" transcript for May 20: McConnell, Warner, Graham

BOB SCHIEFFER: So are we set up for this to end the right way, Senator Graham?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yes, possibly. The strategic partnership agreement where we commit to have a counterterrorism por-- force past 2014 closes the deal, in my view, on the Taliban's aspirations to come back militarily. The Afghan security forces are getting better. They're better trained. They're better equipped. Two years ago, for every Afghan soldier in the south, around Kandahar, there were two Americans. Today there are two Afghans for every one American. Focus on building the army and the police, let the Taliban know that we will have a force past 2014. The British agreed to stay today past 2014. My view is with about three or four airbases, twenty thousand troops left behind past 2014, with American airpower and Special Forces units, the Afghan Army will always win a fight with the Taliban. And if you want the Taliban to reconcile and accept the constitution and stop killing women in soccer stadiums, you got to bel-- they have to believe that you can beat them militarily and I think we're on track to be able do that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You think so, Tom?

TOM FRIEDMAN: Well, I, you know, I-- I have a slightly different do-- view than Senator Graham, which he knows, you know, I believed from the beginning we had four choices in Afghanistan, Bob, lose early, lose late, lose big, or lose small. And, you know, my hope was that we would lose small and early. I have felt from the beginning of this whole surge that the surge of President Obama could work if three things happened. Karzai became a different man, Pakistan became a different country, and President Obama succeeded in doing in Afghanistan precisely what he said he wasn't doing, nation-building in Afghanistan. So, you know, whenever I hear people saying it's a training problem, I always ask myself, who is training the Taliban? Training Afghans to shoot, to fight, that always just has a real dissidence in my ear, you know, I think people fight when they have a will, you know, and-- and it's not just about the way, and I think there are a lot of Afghans that don't want to fight for a corrupt government, all right. That's one problem, and the other problem is Pakistan, which has been playing a double game. They're giving sanctuary to the Taliban, at the same time, you know, being our ally on the other side. Until Pakistan stops looking at Afghanistan as strategic depth against India and start understanding that a strategic depth is its public schools, the quality of its government I don't see how any of this has a happy ending.


CLARISSA WARD: I'm inclined to agree, absolutely, with Tom. I mean, Pakistan has to confront its very real internal economic and political problems, and until that starts to happen, it's impossible to see how there can be any kind of lasting peace in Afghanistan.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So is what happens in Afghanistan, Senator Graham, we went there because it posed, we're told-- a threat to our security, and in fact I think it did. Does it still pose a threat to our sec-- security, and has what we have done there in the time we have spent there made us any safer?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, what makes us safe is that killing bin Laden that helps. What makes us safe is providing capacity to will, and I like Tom Friedman, and your reporter is one of the bravest on the planet but I couldn't disagree more. The Afghan people reject the Taliban in large numbers. Their military and police forces are getting better in the eyes of the Afghan people. The Taliban are never going to give up the fight until they believe they will lose. Pakistan needs to believe that we're not leaving Afghanistan and the Taliban can't come back. They're betting on the Taliban coming back. You can't lose a little bit in Afghanistan. Either you win or you lose, and my belief is if we'll stick to it and follow General Allen's plan--who I trust better than anybody on this show or anywhere in the world-- that we're going to leave Afghanistan, but we'll have a military force left behind that will allow us to defeat the Taliban in perpetuity. And you're dead right about the Karzai government. It's corrupt to the core, but here's what you don't get. I've been there about a dozen times. There's a generation of Afghans who want a better country, who are going to be less corrupt, and they're going to come to power one day but you'll never have a transition of corruption to good governance without security. So these young people are risking their lives and dying in droves to change Afghanistan. If we stick with them, there will be a brighter future in Afghanistan, and we cannot leave Afghanistan without our national security being affected one way or the other. What happens in Afghanistan will follow this country for decades. I applaud the President for his strategic partnership agreement. NATO needs to fund the army. NATO nations needs (sic) to commit past 2014. If we'll do that we will get this right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about another real problem and that's something you know a lot about, Clarissa; because you've spent so much time there, and that is Syria. Where are we right now? There's a, quote, "cease-fire in place" but there's no cease-fire.

CLARISSA WARD: Absolutely. There's no cease-fire. None of the points of Kofi Annan's peace plan have been met. There are still tanks and troops in civilian areas. People are not able to protest without being fired on as we saw in Aleppo. Students coming out to protest were met with bullets instead. So there's a very real sense that this peace plan is not going according to plan and the question is what-- at what point does the international community call this plan a failure? And if they do call it a failure what's the next step, because unfortunately what's happening in the interim, while there's this kind of inertia, is you're seeing extremists, non-state actors who are stepping in to capitalize on the political chaos in this-- the country. And I speak with these opposition activists every day and they're up in arms about it. They say, of course we have nothing to do with these bombings and-- and we're horrified that they're happening and they're giving our movement a bad name. But they're certainly not in any position to put a stop to them, either.